That Hobby Store Around The Corner

That Hobby Store Around The Corner

A few days ago I was going through some old photos of my hobby collection. I found a few photos of cars I first bought from my local hobby store (LHS). I was brought back to a time when online stores and outlets didn’t exist yet and when the local hobby store was the only place to get anything hobby related. This was an important time in the industry because the Internet business was more for bigger companies, and online auction sites were more for the old collectible hobby stuff, rather than current support.

If you look online now, it’s flooded with places to buy from. But, what about that LHS?

We have hit a point in the hobby where we are being drawn to online stores, and overseas wholesalers. We are forgetting about that LHS around the corner. Well, here is the deal: I know this can be a hot topic and could get into a debate, but first I want you to think back to the first time you walked into a hobby store. Maybe it was as a kid like most of us, or maybe as an adult. Now think about the entire in-store expertise and product you can put your hands on. I remember asking and getting lots of advise from the guys on the other side of the counter as a kid. I also remember the best part of all, after all the summer jobs and allowance I was able to go to the store and grab that first kit off the shelve and bringing it home. (Kyosho USA-1).

To me this meant more to me than waiting for the mailman. It just isn’t the same. I know I’m not alone here. Even if your LHS doesn’t have the part when something breaks (which isn’t as common anymore) and they have to order it, most places have a reasonable turn around for the next shipment. This brings me to a question. If you order online and have to wait for it, why is it a big deal to order it through the LHS anyway? Either way you’re waiting, and the hobby store may have it in stock. If it comes down to price (and this is were it can get sticky), you’d be surprised that a lot of hobby stores are very competitive and will work with their customers to keep them coming back. Today’s competitive nature is a little different than back then. Some LHS will price match to an acceptable level with some things. Depending on the situation. You just can’t be a poop head about it when you walk in the door. I know this from personal experience from working for one of the largest hobby supply stores in Canada. Sure, you can expect some stuff to be slightly more expensive in the store because they have staff and a brick and mortar store to pay for. Not to mention the years of experience most stores carry. It’s hard to put a price on that.

If you are a regular customer to your LHS, they are more than likely going to continue a business with you and the people you bring to the store. I know not every store is like this, but a lot of them are. Which is why we need to keep the good ones. Call me old fashioned, but this is what I see. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the good old local hobby store to begin with. Perhaps a bold statement, but it’s true. I know some folks don’t have a LHS, and online is the only way. I get that. Did you know a lot of hobby stores have online stores too? I consider that local support too for those hard to reach people. For those of us with a local hobby store, I say support them too! I know some online deals are just too good to pass up, and that some LHS may not carry the item of need. I understand why online shopping can be a great resource. Always check to see if that LHS can get it, and remember that there is nothing like walking into that LHS and picking out that die cast, RC, or airplane in person. Rather than looking at pictures of it on a computer monitor.

Bottom line, I know not everyone will agree with this topic. That’s cool. Online deals will always be there. Local stock restrictions can happen. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy online, I’m just saying if your LHS has it, why not show your local support as well?

What do YOU think?

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Updated: July 20, 2015 — 4:35 PM


  1. A LHS in my neck of the woods would be awesome. I order all my stuff from Great Hobbies online. Shipping is not to bad and they usually have what I need and want. The money I would haved probably save in shipping might have gone into a new ride or parts. I got 15+ vehicles from 1/18 to 1/5 also boats and helicopters. I am just a basher and would like to race. A Hobby shop would be welcome especially with a track or two. We do have a small stash of RC stuff but the owner mostly carries fuel and glow plugs. Mind you he keeps it all behind closed doors at the local Radio Shack. I have walked into a hobby shop a couple times and loved it, so a LHS gets two thumbs up from me.

  2. As a racer, my local hobby shop sucks unless you need parts for a Traxxas. About the only items they carry of use to me are tools, paint, wire, and shrink wrap. Every now and then, they may have a part for my Losi SCTE, but more often than not they don’t have anything in stock.

    Of course, they always offer to order it but at that point I can just do the same from Amain and have it delivered to my door quicker than they can get it to the shop.

    Local shops need to build up their online capabilities so it is more convenient. I’d pay a little extra to order from the local shop and have it delivered to my house assuming the delivery times are the same.

    I know the general thought is bashers spend more money, but I want to see some hard numbers on that. As a racer, I probably spend several thousand a year with A Main and I would love to give it to a local shop but none carry what I need or are convenient. Very few local hobby shops cater to racers and I think they are missing out…

  3. Good read,

    Though mostly on point, there are a couple of things that people don’t get.

    This hobby relies on disposable income. Something that many now don’t have. Then you have the LHS’s not carrying the inventory they may once have had. Those two things give a one-two sucker punch to the hobby in general. Sure some LHS’s still have the super cool inventory, that had just about every part one could or would need. Those LHS’s are getting harder and harder to come by. As I told one of the LHS owners, you can’t sell what you don’t have. Meaning that people walking into a shop tend to be impulse buyers. They have money burning that hole in their pocket and want to spend it. If everything is special order, they are more than likely not going to spend their money.

    The local shop owner looked at me like I was on crack. Then proceeded to explain that with the lack of people buying in general, he decided to try and keep his overhead as low as possible and thus went to doing more special ordering. He also has access to a local warehouse that he goes and gets the day’s order from. I can understand that mindset of trying to keep overhead down, but at what point do people just give up and order what they need when they need it from where ever they might oder it from other than a LHS?

    I’m not saying not to try and support a LHS. I always try to, but when the majority of what I need is going to have to be ordered by the LHS, it makes it hard to always order just from there. Plus some shops don’t or can’t get the items needed because they didn’t get setup with the right distributers to even have access to those items.

    As far as shop pricing goes, I agree that many LHS’s will try to match some of the online sources. Not they they really want to at times, because that cuts into their already little profit margines, but it’s the nature of the beast. One of the many pitfalls of the internet for sure.

    All the other points are spot on for me anyway

  4. I used to give the mail order guys I race with a hard time about the practice, but eventually began to “see the light”, so to speak. While I still try to buy local when possible, most of our local hobby shops simply don’t carry many of the brands that I buy. It’s not that they’re out, it’s that they simply don’t or won’t buy the line, or won’t do business through the distributor. I don’t enjoy being forced to run a certain brand of car simply because it’s one of two brands the local track chooses to support. I’m not sure if this is the norm around the country, but customer service at many LHS’s in my area is pretty rough these days. Maybe the store clerks are getting burnt out on what they consider “stupid questions” from all the “RTR noobs”, but that’s really no excuse. Don’t enjoy the job, get in to another line of work. I won’t hand my hard earned money over to an unappreciative grouch. Several of my last orders from brick and mortar hobby shops in my area went south. Had a 6 month long prepaid ($250) backorder, when online retailers had the product in stock and were shipping left and right. Came to find out the employees filled thier own orders prior to filling customer orders. Have had LHS employees break the plastic open on my special order kits to “take a quick peak” at the contents, and in one case, take the manual home for some bathroom reading when he thought I was out of town for a few more days. And in another case, had an employee “borrow” a part from a special order kit I’d ordered to fix his own car. He ordered the replacement, but I this delayed finishing the build by 3 weeks – not cool.
    Given all those issues, I’d have to say attitude is the biggest factor in whether or not I’m going to buy from a business, regardless of the type of product. Sometimes you gain a loyal customer by the way you resolve a sticky situation. Don’t be a jerk.
    Also, a little note directed directly towards the smaller mom-and-pop LHS’s – find a way to get the word out that you exist. A good deal of my favorite shops are in funky locations – which I’d never have found if not for random word of mouth. I stumbled upon what is likely the second nicest hobby shop in my state purely by chance – and it was no more than a mile from my neighborhood. I was flying at a local school when another RC flier and I started chatting. He mentioned the shop, and I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of it after visiting for the first time. I don’t think the guy had even listed himself in the yellow pages up to that point, and he basically had a park flyer and basher’s paradise on his hands. Advertise, even if it’s only a small ad on a popular forum, flyers at the local track (if it’s not supported or owned by another shop), or having your enthusiastic employees spend some time spreading the word on mutliple forums.

  5. LHS dont have the parts racer need in stock..its good for all the basher…people trying to get in to r/c….i get all my parts and kits online…

  6. Thanks Matt. Ok legal eagle, I get the grammer issues. I’ve been struggling with my auto correct feature in word, and wordpress. Please feel free to cut and paste the article and email with corrections to

    I’m glad you guys enjoyed reading it though. 🙂

  7. I think this article, while a complete grammatical disaster, is right on point.

    1. Ouch! That’s pretty harsh, legal eagle. I’m glad you liked Chris’ article. I know I do.

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